You know the feeling. The moment after you tell your better half that yes, her bum does look big in that. There are times where you really wish that you could rewind the clock a little bit. Reversing the car into that ‘hidden’ pole. Standing up in the kitchen and catching the corner of your head on the corner of a cupboard door. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a 30 second rewind.
Just what the world doesn’t need, another risotto recipe. Could I suggest that if you want a simple prawn risotto recipe, go back and search again. This one is not simple and needs lots of work. This extreme recipe produces an extreme result. It is worth the trouble. But, it is trouble. So if you want something nice and simple, it’s been nice knowing you. If you want something really, really delicious, get your sleeves rolled up.
This post really is a triumph of form over function. I was in the fish shop last week and they had some whole (small) tuna on sale. I’ve never cooked a whole tuna before. I planned to smoke the fish but found that it wouldn’t fit into my smoker. So, instead of cutting off the head and tail, I decided it would photograph quite well and I could bake it in an oriental style. It proved to be very simple to prepare and delicious to eat. A worthy and impressive participant in the Easy Oriental series. This makes a great centrepiece, always useful when serving Oriental.
I am a modest chap. I don’t like drawing attention to myself. I am also not the tallest person in the room, unless I’m in there on my own. Over the years, I have grown accustomed to having barmen serve the guy behind me and being left until last when it comes to fighting for attention in the Autumn sales. I tend to not do much of either pinting or sale shopping these days so there is no real loss, except to my dignity. But, there is a limit….
I had some trepidation growing in me as our pre-arranged meeting with Stéphane Gabart, the author of the delightful My French Heaven blog loomed. The arrangement was made some months before our trip to France in July. As the time got closer, I found my psychosis growing and was asking myself “What if he is a pompous French git?”, “What if he lords it over us with his superior French attitude?” “What if he doesn’t speak English?”,“What will we talk about?” I allowed the pressure to build and build inside my head right up until Stéphane greeted the Wife and myself at his beautiful home. “This is a mistake.” were the words that nearly escaped my lips as we got out of the car to meet the man.
The last time we had Dublin Bay Prawns was after the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival (imagine dreaming up such a thing). Having driven out to Howth and back again, there was not time to make prawn stock. So, I thought the best thing to do was to freeze the shells and heads for later use. In my mind, later can mean any time in the future. That is, unless the Wife decides that there was not enough space in the freezer and my prawn shells have to go.
Why am I in trouble? Is it for undercooking the pasta? Is it for overcooking the clams? Or, is it for adding too much or too little wine? No, none of the above. I’m in trouble because the Wife and the Mother both loved this dish.
I have to give you a little bit of background to this post and the inspiration for this new, occasional series, Ireland’s Greatest Ingredients. A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Liam Quinlan. Liam is a Kerryman (nothing wrong with that) and is passionate about the seafood that his family company produces. Liam travelled to Dublin by train. I met him at Huston station and we spent a few hours together. Liam brought me a styrofoam box. “Just some crab and a bit of salmon for you to try.” he said in his self deprecatory way.
Back when we were kids (there we six of us), we often holidayed in the village of Louisburgh, Co. Mayo. We all have happy memories of those summers, of playing on the deserted beach at Kiladoon, of visits to the metropolis of Westport (pop 5,500) and happy days spent spinning for mackerel from the pier at Lettereeragh, where the Bundoragha River enters the grandly named Killary Fjord. Our earliest trips to the pier bore no fruit (or mackerel for that matter). My father took heart from a local who told him “Hold your time. There are days when the water does be stiff with them. Sure, you could walk on their backs from here to Lenane.”, a distance of about 10 kilometres.
Over the weekend, the Wife persuaded me to take her out to Howth (a tedious drive or a glorious cycle around Dublin Bay from our house), to see what was going on at the Dublin Bay Prawn Festival. Being the obliging person that I am, I got behind the wheel. As much as I got behind the wheel, Howth has got behind this festival and there was a great atmosphere out there. The festival tent had a raft of seafood treats on offer.